DEAR DR. FOX: Except for rabies, may I opt out of annual shots for my dogs, and any other suggested vaccines at vet offices? -- L.A., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR L.A.: You are raising an issue that is politically controversial in the human health care sphere -- so much so, that members of the Kennedy family have spoken out against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his information on childrenshealthdefense.org. His views and concerns about the plethora of vaccines given to children, and what they contain, are backed by sound science and reason. They parallel many of mine when it comes to vaccinating companion animals. But neither he nor I are totally opposed to the cautious and appropriate use of safe and effective vaccines.
Too many veterinarians still advocate annual booster vaccinations, and some boarding and grooming facilities will refuse animals who are not “up to date” on their shots. This is analogous to schools forcing parents to have their children vaccinated regardless of pre-existing vaccination status, and barring them from school otherwise. Problems arise when irresponsible parents send sick children to overcrowded, poorly ventilated schoolrooms. Relying on vaccinations for so called “herd health” in humans is a poor substitute for personal hygiene, public health education, sanitation, good nutrition and healthful lifestyles.
If your dog has had prior basic “core” vaccinations, revaccination may not be needed. A blood test called a titer can be done to determine the status of immunity. Your dog may well need no other vaccinations aside from the mandatory (and questionable) three-year-duration anti-rabies vaccine. My website (drfoxonehealth.com) provides the basic vaccination protocol for dogs and cats, and a critical review article on the subject entitled “Animal Vaccination Concerns.”
I have been receiving more letters over recent years from people whose dogs have severe allergies and who are spending a small fortune on medications, many of which have harmful side-effects. One significant contributing factor may be repeated vaccinations. And some of the ingredients in current pet vaccinations are also present in vaccines given to children, who are showing a rising incidence of food allergies.
I implore doctors, veterinarians and other health care providers to read about this issue at: childrenshealthdefense.org/news/no-enigma-vaccines-and-the-food-allergy-epidemic/
DEAR DR. FOX: I have written to you before about renal support for my dog, who was suffering from kidney failure. Thank you for your advice, which was very helpful. He was much happier and, I think, healthier with a good diet instead of his old prescription dog food. Sadly, he died recently -- not from everything he was being treated for, but from a likely brain tumor.
A couple of months ago, he’d started having seizures, and within just a few days, it was obvious this was not a temporary condition. We had to put him down. I was able to hold him and comfort him during the procedure, and although he was pretty much out of it by that time, I think he knew he was in his favorite place: daddy’s lap.
One of our sons passed away from a heart attack at the same time we had to put Skeeter down, so it was doubly hard. I’m actually writing to you today about his dog: He and his fiancee had/have a rescue mix, about 35 pounds. His fur is not really short like a shepherd’s, and not long like a retriever’s, but in between, and he sheds something awful.
His fiancee has lint removers all over the house to remove dog hair from clothes, furniture, just about everything. He’s very active and friendly, so anyone who interacts with him ends up with hair on their clothes. She brushes and vacuums him regularly, but he still sheds a lot. I don’t see any skin conditions or fleas; he doesn’t scratch a lot, and his fur is clean and soft.
I know short-haired dogs stay clean by shedding, but I checked online for information about excessive shedding and found a lot of products, both oral and topical, that purport to control this problem. Do you have any advice about controlling shedding? -- J.S., Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
DEAR J.S.: I am so sorry to hear about the double loss of loved ones in your family. But I am glad that my help regarding nutrition for your kidney-compromised dog proved beneficial and improved your dog’s quality of life.
Shedding’s causes can be hormonal, environmental, genetic and nutritional. Stress, such as separation anxiety, can increase shedding. But most often, it is because of poor-quality dog food. It is amazing that so many dogs survive on a diet of dry kibble, which too many veterinarians sell in their clinics, only to turn around and treat dogs and cats for various health problems caused by such a diet! Anyone in doubt of this fact can check the book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Foods.”
Regrettably, many new veterinary graduates know better, but are still obliged to sell such biologically inappropriate and harmful pet foods in order to generate income for their pet practices and pay off exorbitant student loans. At least some more progressive practices are now supporting local community members starting up their own pet food initiatives, and linking with veterinary-directed special diet recipes at secure.balanceit.com.
For the dog in question, I would recommend my home-prepared diet (on my website: drfoxonehealth.com) as at least half his daily meals. And be sure to give a few drops of fish oil and a half-teaspoon of brewer’s yeast in his food daily.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)